Sharepoint 2010 Farm vs SQL Cluster

I have 3 servers all running Windows Server 2008 R2. One is my Domain Controller, another is my SQL 2008 R2 server and the last is my Sharepoint 2010 server.
I just got a 4th server and was wondering how is the best way to utilize this server to improve performance and/or up time.
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AccessYourBiz_ComAsked:
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Justin SmithSr. System EngineerCommented:
The benefits to virtualization is you can use more of your hardware resources.  Instead of buying a physical server and having it run at 20% CPU and memory, put two virtual servers onto it and better utilize what you bought.  However, virtualization doesn't work for every situation.  In my opinion, if you go a virtual route, you need a SAN to do it corrrectly.

Anyway, for the extra server, I would join it to the farm as a web server.  That is the easiest thign to do, and will get you immediate performance gains.  Your current SharePoint server will act as the APP server, running Central Admin as well as your service apps (search, user profile, etc).  The new server will be dedicated to serving users content.

If you would make the new server a member of your sql cluster, it will deffinately protect you from a backend outage, but you still have vulnerability on the front end.  If your front end server goes down, sharepoint goes down.  Also, you won't really get a performance gain with the cluster.  

I would first seperate web and app roles.  Then if you get an additional server, i would think about joining it to your cluster.  
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sharjeel ashrafSenior Network EngineerCommented:
which of two is more heavily used, pull of some stats, like HDD , CPU, Memory, etc usage.
you could then create a cluster of the highly used one and try to load balance across them. licensing would be my issue, and identical hardware, is another consideration to give when clustering.

have you considered Virtulization, and using 3 physical, and how many ever you need virtual servers.
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AccessYourBiz_ComAuthor Commented:
Thanks. I have not considered Virtualization. What are the benefits of Virtualization?
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FastFngrzCommented:
Clustering (as microsoft knows it) is only available with Enterprise Windows and SQL, not to mention a SAN.. A few $$$$$$$$  

More hardware can improve both performance and availability, done right. My recommendation would be to install it as a Windows Enterprise R2 edition, HyperV role, and run some VM's inside it.. Which VM will be determined by what needs the redundancy.  Most definately a DC/DNS server, Sharepoint can get better performance with another front end, but you'll not likely see that until you hit a few 100 users.  Sql would love to do a SQL failover (sql 2008 standard) to be more available, and your file servers would love a replicated DFS structure.

Make sure your new server has lots of spindles, lotsa ram, dual power supplies plugged into different UPS's !!
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AccessYourBiz_ComAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the feedback. Just to be clear, all software I have is Enterprise editions (Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL 2008 R2 and Sharepoint 2010)

Based upon the feedback I am getting, it sounds like I could create multiple VM to create failover cluster on both SQL, Web Farm and Sharepoint farm. Does that sound right? I don't know what SAN is...do I still need that if I have Enterprise editions of the server software?
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Justin SmithSr. System EngineerCommented:
A SAN is a storage area network.  It's basically a set of drives that can be shared between servers.  You have to have shared storage to do any type of clustering.

I really think your best bet is to seperate your web and app roles between two physical servers, and have SQL on the third.  The only other thing I would recommend (completely depending on the two front end server's hardware), is to set up HyperV on both.  Then create a virtual server on each, one being a web server and the other being an app.  You could then add more virtual servers as needed and set up load balancing between web servers.
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AccessYourBiz_ComAuthor Commented:
Ach1lles, the specs on my servers are Intel Quad Core CPU and 8GB ram, no raid. I am guessing the HyperV is appropriate with that hardware. Agreed?
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Justin SmithSr. System EngineerCommented:
No, I don't agree.  I wouldn't put anything "production" on a server with no RAID configuration, especially SQL.
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FastFngrzCommented:
We are solving issues before getting the big picture!

- (Approx) How many users, how many locations?
- Where are the pain points now? A new server won't solve anything if you are bottlenecked elsewhere.
- What are the downtimes?  Improving on 99.99% uptime will be hard without a lot of work, but improving on 99% uptime will be easier.

I agree with ACH1LLES - you need HARDWARE raid on any server, just as you want redundancy wherever you have lots of beans in 1 basket - hence my recommendation on dual power supplies.  Also, only 8GB RAM will go quick on a quad-core HyperV box - you'll hit the 2GB NUMA memory barrier pretty quick (it'll still be faster than what you've got, according to Moore's Law)
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Justin SmithSr. System EngineerCommented:
Don't really need the big picture.  He asked how to utilize his forth server for performance and/or up time.  The forth server doesn't have much, so HyperV is out of the question.  What does that leave?  You can either make it part of a SQL cluster, which isn't possible without shared storage.  You can make it a second SQL server, which shouldn't be done due to lack of RAID.  Or you can make it a web/app server.  

If you want performance gain, use it to seperate web and app roles.
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AccessYourBiz_ComAuthor Commented:
Raid, Understood. The servers have the RAID controller(s) built in but I am not using it. I would have to buy HD's for that and based upon your suggestions I will do just that.
However it still seems HyperV does not make sense because I don't have enough RAM. Correct?
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AccessYourBiz_ComAuthor Commented:
FastFngz,
This is a brand new setup with no Pain Points or bottlenecks. I plan on having approximatly 10-20 light users for tracking open items in a help desk type situation. It is one application but it will be extended to different seperate applications so we can keep the data seperate. I am using Access Services for the application.
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sharjeel ashrafSenior Network EngineerCommented:
main points would be to mirror the O/S and riad 5 the data, or raid 6, depending on the number of HDD you have
i would build the new server as a raided solution and move the SQL over to it, this will improve data access, and help with hardware redundency.
then rebuild your current SQL box again using Raided HDD, then move the apps server over to it, this should leave one spare server again build it using raid, and then look in to HyperV or virtulization using Vmware or Xen.

they all have benefits and disadvantages depending on your school of thought, some poeple like Microsoft some like vmware.

depending on your domain requirements i would look to create a second DC and have some functions moved to it form the primary DC, this would give you AD rededuncy, and then look at moving some of the sharepoint services to it, therefore splitting the load, or use it as a front end for you sharepoint service's.
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sharjeel ashrafSenior Network EngineerCommented:
SAN solutions can become very expensive, but you can get away with sata san / NAS solutions, these would not be a prefered solution, but to start a small virtulization setup might be a good option.

SAN / NAS is the way forward companies a pushing this solution hard, as it removes the overhead for data access to the SAN / NAS solution allowing the main server to do local O/S and application processing.
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AccessYourBiz_ComAuthor Commented:
Thanks J.
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